Freelancers Surge as Marketers Face Layoffs, Reject Office Return: New Study from Fiverr Pro

  • The majority of marketing leaders (54%) have more freelancers on their team this year compared to previous years

  • 80% of marketing leaders know of marketing professionals who have become freelancers as a result of either layoffs or return to office policies

  • 85% of marketing leaders surveyed conducted layoffs since the start of 2022

  • 52% of marketing professionals would not even consider applying for a job if it required them to be in the office full-time

Fiverr International Ltd., the company that is changing how the world works together, released new research from Fiverr Pro, Fiverr’s premium solution for medium to large businesses seeking top professional talent, revealing how marketing professionals are increasingly leaning on freelancers. The findings include the percentage of marketing leaders who have conducted layoffs in the last year, the job titles that were cut, and the resulting skills gaps that freelancers are being tapped to replenish.

Additionally, the survey details the staffing and recruiting challenges that marketing leaders are facing; marketing employees are not comfortable with return to office (RTO) policies.

Marketing Leaders Have Slashed Their Full-time Workforce

The research shows that a staggering 85%1 of marketing leaders surveyed conducted layoffs this year or last year, resulting in a loss of various skills, with the top three being Marketing Manager (37%), Digital Marketing (31%), and Market Research (30%). Of the marketing leaders who conducted layoffs, 83% turned to freelancers for specific expertise that was lost.

“The unpredictability of the U.S. economy has forced many marketing leaders to lay off full-time workers, which has left entire teams with missing roles that impact productivity,” said General Manager of Fiverr Pro, Shai-Lee Spigelman. “As these leaders look to stabilize their business and fill those gaps, we’re seeing freelancers as a solution that positively benefits the entire team — providing support to full-time employees, bringing in new ideas, and maintaining strong business momentum.”

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Freelancers Support and Benefit Marketing Workforces

On average, 45% of marketing leaders’ teams are made up of freelancers, and the majority (54%) have more freelancers on their team this year compared to previous years — this is particularly true for organizations with over 100 employees.

When it comes to why freelancers were brought in, the top reasons were to support full-time employees (63%), support specific projects (57%), and benefit from new skills (56%). As a result, 74% of full-time and part-time employees say they felt supported by the freelancers their companies brought in the last year, demonstrating that freelance talent is a solution that benefits both marketing leaders and employees.

Conflict between Managers and Employees Over RTO

When it comes to RTO, 95% of surveyed marketing leaders have RTO policies in place, and 85%3 of them believe in the RTO policy they are enforcing. In fact, 62% of marketing leaders say that employee response to the RTO policy has been positive. However, 61% of full-time or part-time marketing professionals have looked at freelance opportunities because of their current employer’s RTO policy. The difference in these responses reveals a disconnect between the marketing leaders and their employees.

RTO is not just a problem with retention, it’s also hindering recruitment. The survey revealed the majority of marketing professionals (53%) would not consider applying for a job if it required them to be in the office full-time or even part-time, citing flexibility (53%) and commuting time (43%) as the top reasons. However, there may be hope, as 86% of marketing leaders with RTO policies in place agree that they need to consider offering increased flexibility to staff to help alleviate the back-to-office push.

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“Looking to the future, I urge marketing leaders who are building their teams and planning their 2024 strategies to seriously consider these new workforce challenges and the impact they may have on the future of their organizations,” continued Spigelman. “Additionally, considering different solutions like freelancers to meet these challenges is key to staying competitive in this rapidly evolving industry. If they don’t, marketing departments and teams will only continue to lose valuable talent to more flexible options and risk being obsolete.”

The research was conducted by Censuswide among a sample of 502 marketing, advertising, brand, growth, PR/communications, and SEO leaders in the US (aged 18+) and 1,009 marketing, advertising, brand, growth, PR/communications, and SEO professionals in the US (aged 18+). The data was collected between 8.30.23 – 9.8.23. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct, which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

1 This stat is the reverse of those who selected ‘We did not conduct layoffs this or last year’

2 ‘Very supported’ and ‘Somewhat supported’ responses combined

3’ Strongly agree’ and ‘Somewhat agree’ responses combined

4 ‘Yes, because of layoffs’ and ‘Yes, because of RTO policies’, and ‘Yes, both’ responses combined

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